P&G, Wal-Mart form new content tie-up

12 February 2010

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, and Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, are joining forces to encourage the production of more "family-friendly" TV content in the US.

The two advertising titans are putting their combined weight behind Secrets of the Mountain, a two-hour TV movie that will be broadcast on NBC on April 16, and which emphasises traditional values.

P&G Productions spearheaded the making of the film, which is estimated to have cost around $4.5 million (€3.3m; £2.9m), alongside paying for the airtime.

Wal-Mart is said to have contributed to some of the overall expense, as well as providing a fee to P&G to be credited as the "presenting sponsor".

It will also promote Secrets of the Mountain across its network of 3,700 stores, as well selling it when it comes out on DVD.

Spots for both companies will feature during breaks in the movie, which will also contain product placement for their brands.

P&G and Wal-Mart belong to the Alliance for Family Entertainment, which was formed by the Association of National Advertisers in 1998, and boasts other members like Unilever and Kraft.

A poll by this organisation last year found that just 23% of respondents were "satisfied" there was enough broadcast material targeted at people of all ages.

Separate research from Procter and Wal-Mart also revealed that 85% of this audience "go out of their way" to track down these kinds of programmes.

"Both studies reinforced the importance of family-friendly ads appearing in the context of family-friendly TV content," they said in a statement.

"Consumer perceptions of a company are shaped by the TV shows, events or activities that it sponsors," the two firms added.

Secrets of the Mountain forms part of Wal-Mart's broader "Family Moments" platform, which uses marketing, in-store and digital activities "to provide more entertainment options for the entire family."

"We're at a point where we really couldn't increase our advertising significantly from here unless we have more programming options," said Stephen Quinn, the discounter's chief marketing officer.

While events like the Super Bowl, and outlets like the Hallmark Channel, fulfil its requirements in this area, other appropriate channels are somewhat thin on the ground.

"[Advertisers] really worry about the last 10% to 20% of the ads that they have to place, because they're squeamish about the reaction they might get from the audience," Quinn added.

"It's something we know our shoppers want, it's important to the growth of our business, and it's one more way we are delivering on our brand promise."

Procter & Gamble has previously moved in to producing online branded content, and is similarly considering its options in areas like TV and film.

"You have heard the saying 'You are judged by the company you keep.' Brands are judged by the company they keep," said Marc Pritchard, its global marketing and brand building officer.

"I like to think of it as 'no-lunge TV,' meaning I don't have to lunge for my remote. I have been lunging for the remote quite a bit. My arm is a little sore."

"As a company of family brands, we know that context matters, and we're proud to advertise our brands in this broadly appealing content."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff